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- The Forecaster
CUMBERLAND —An incumbent on the School Administrative District 51 Board of Directors was unseated Tuesday, while a former member and a political newcomer took two open seats.
Voters approved the SAD 51 fiscal year 2020 budget, 1,534 to 582. The spending plan passed 1,339 to 522 in Cumberland, and 195-60 in North Yarmouth.
A second question, asking whether the budget referendum process should continue another three years, also passed: 1,386 to 457 in Cumberland, and 189-62 in North Yarmouth.
With two Cumberland seats on the School Board available, newcomer Jennifer Stewart received 1,084 votes. Peter Bingham, who stepped down from the Town Council to run for the board, took the second open seat with 1,071 votes.
Incumbent Mike Brown came in third, with 931 votes.
Brown, appointed to the board in 2015 to fill a vacant seat, was later elected to one full, three-year term, which expired this year. Gigi Sanchez, who served two terms from 2013-2019, did not run again, creating the second opening.
Brown on Tuesday said he was disappointed by the results, but “I was confident that the election would turn out exactly as it was supposed to. … There wasn’t a weak person on that ticket.”
“It’s still a solid team,” he said.
Stewart could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. She is a certified public accountant who has served with Portland Trails, the Sebec Lake Association, and the Junior League of Maine. She has three children between the ages of 9 and 14, all in SAD 51 schools, which inspired her to run for the board.
Bingham, a retired financial executive, previously served on the SAD 51 board from 1984-1990, and 2002-2008. He spent 1996-2002 and 2013-2019 on the Town Council, and 1991-1996 and 2010-2013 on the Planning Board. His public service also includes the Comprehensive Plan Committee and the Lions Club.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back on the School Board, and doing my best to contribute,” Bingham said Tuesday night.
Although next year’s $38.4 million budget – which got initial voter approval at a May 23 district budget meeting – reflects a 2.84% spending increase, it is due to have no impact on Cumberland and North Yarmouth tax rates.
A revenue jump in state aid to education has largely offset $1.06 million in increased expenses. The district expects to receive $11.8 million in state aid to education – a $961,000 increase over fiscal year 2019, and the most SAD 51 has received since 2017. The subsidy still depends on legislative approval.
Projected district revenues, including the state subsidy, total $12.1 million, a 6.88% hike.
When those revenues are subtracted from the total budget, $26.3 million remains to be assessed to the two towns. Cumberland’s share would be just less than $19 million, while North Yarmouth’s would be about $7.5 million.
While the local share is up 1.09%, hikes in revenues and property valuations in the two towns offset that increase, resulting in no impact to either town’s tax rate.
Regular instruction, which consumes the largest portion of spending, totals $17.3 million, a 3.62% increase. Special education, totaling $6.9 million, is up 1.71%. Debt service is $2.8 million, a 3.77% hike, due to payments for the new Greely Center for the Arts.
SAD 51 is also adding a $265,000 pre-kindergarten program.